Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Jason goes to Indiefest--Day 5

Two movies Monday night, so let's get right to it.

FRAME BY FRAME is an excellent documentary about photo-journalists in Afghanistan. Under the Taliban oppression, photography was illegal. Now that they're gone, a fledgling fourth estate is starting up. We see the people learning and teaching basic photography skills, and we get a glimpse of what Afghanistan is like now. And it's far from perfect. The bulk of the movie is devoted to the people who take great risks to document horrible things that are still happening. But through it all I felt an incredible sense of hope. That however many problems still exist--and there are many--this is a people who are once again able to tell their own stories. And that's powerful. Someone makes the point early in the movie that a people without photography do not exist. And that seems weird, since on the scale of human civilization photography is relatively recent. But by the end I'm convinced. At least in this day and age, people who are not able to take pictures are not able to tell their story. And people who can't tell their story don't exist. It's weird that photography was ever illegal. But it's even weirder to realize that photography--even when it's legal--is still a radical act.

And then a bit of late-night weirdness from Switzerland with POLDER. A story with multiple levels of reality (including the reality of the audience sitting in the theater watching it.) We open inside a virtual reality game. Marcus is the game developer. Or maybe he's the AI of the game. Or maybe he's both. Or maybe we're all in a game right now. Maybe the final level of reality is me writing this blog, or you reading this. No...that's just stupid. That would require Internet companies to be collecting your information and controlling your entire life--or what you think is your life. It's a visually dazzling mind-fuck, and the filmmakers took the extra step of having actors in character show up in the theater at various moments to add to the overall experience (hence why I said that the audience watching the film is yet another layer of reality.) Personally, I think the film works fine on its own, and I'm a bit surprised they took a chance on something that could be very distracting and doesn't add a whole lot (just my opinion--in the Q & A some people talked about how much they liked it.) There was one moment--when there was no image on screen, only sound, and an actress walked across the front of the theater--that I thought was effective. Other than that, I mostly ignored the actors, even when they were sitting two seats away from me.

Total Running Time: 180 minutes
My Total Minutes: 418,060
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